Hello readers! Brian here with the eighteenth edition of “The Best and Worst of Zelda.” It’s amazing to think that I’ve written eighteen of these editorials already, so I’d really love to thank all of you who keep returning to read every week! Today’s topic was my own personal idea, but I think with the recent release of A Link Between Worlds, it’s certainly fitting. Don’t forget to put in your ideas for next week’s Christmas-themed editorial!
With a series such as the Legend of Zelda, which has been around for multiple decades and is associated with a plethora of different games, it’s only natural to repeat certain aspects from older games. Sometimes, this can be interpreted as the repetition of a formula, but when its purpose is obviously to pay homage to classics of the past, it can invoke an invaluable nostalgia in the player. This can come in many forms; it can be anything from a little extra, like a painting or design, or something as big as an entire dungeon! Done right, it’s a powerful way to reach the biggest Zelda fans, but done poorly, it can turn those same people off through boredom of repetition.
The newest Zelda title, A Link Between Worlds, is full of interesting little references to prior games, although of course, many times this is merely to summarize the events of A Link to the Past, the game’s predecessor. But aside from these more necessary, plot-important references, there are plenty of little Easter Eggs around Hyrule and Lorule that should seem rather familiar to fans of the Zelda series. Let’s start with the obvious, enormous mask on Link’s bedroom wall (which later becomes Ravio’s Shop). Talk about an anachronism. Why, the games aren’t even in the same timeline! Seeing Majora’s Mask was present in the game didn’t make me feel much more than puzzled. It didn’t seem to play any role in the game itself, and there isn’t a way to make too much sense out of it. But hey, it’s there, and in my opinion, that’s enough to show us that Nintendo truly hasn’t forgotten about Link’s adventures in Termina. Now I know many of you were expecting, or at least hoping for a hint at a remake of the Nintendo 64 classic title, and in all honesty, I was too, but I think it’s at least nice to know that they haven’t just left that game in the past (like they tend to do with Zelda II). Link’s new ability to become a painting also leads to some fun little extras. In fact, you can see the sage’s instruments from The Wind Waker on the walls of a house in Kakariko Village. Little things like that are really cool to find and just look at for a little while for the sake of nostalgia. Yet none of those little throwbacks match one of my favorite portions of the game: the Milk Bar band. Playing a myriad songs, I was very pleasantly surprised to hear Ballad of the Goddess, a personal favorite of mine. Music is my favorite way of connecting to a game, and that was a really nice addition.
As a quick aside, I’d like to weigh in my opinion on Ravio’s diary found in Hero Mode. Many people are taking this as a clear reference to Majora’s Mask, and I do most certainly see the point. I mean, it is a three-day countdown, which would obviously remind any fan of the iconic three day cycle. I personally feel that there is no way that Nintendo could have added that specific detail without thinking of Majora’s Mask, BUT I also tend to disagree with the claim that the entirety of this diary is a big reference. I find it difficult to believe that the “he” and “she” characters could possibly be anybody other than Yuga and Hilda, and I believe that if you replace the slightly ambiguous pronouns with those two names, the diary makes perfect sense. So here’s the point where I disagree with what Nintendo did here; knowing how analytic Zelda fans can be, and how often they’ve jumped the gun in the past, added to the fact that Aonuma has hinted upon entertaining the remake requests, it was wildly unnecessary to add in the three-day countdown. In fact, the removal of that would leave the diary as a nice little extra for the challengers of strong-will who have decided to take on Hero Mode. And nothing more.
But now I’d like to bring up one of my favorite instances of “throwbacks” in the series: The Royal Crypt. Being the only mini-dungeon in The Minish Cap, it’s often somewhat forgotten due to its brevity, but I would argue that it is one of the better dungeons in the game thematically speaking. The dungeon itself is a reference to the original Legend of Zelda, a game that was already considered to be “vintage” by the time The Minish Cap was released. The music is a creepy, slower remix of the original dungeon theme, which evoked the feeling of ominousness in the player. Along with this, there were the ghastly graveyard ghouls known as Gibdos, who I believe to be the most difficult enemies in the game (but I’m just bad with fighting them). And note that in the Gibdo room, there are four headed statues reminiscent of the entrances to The Legend of Zelda‘s dungeons. It’s a fantastic, yet short little experience that deserves more credit than it receives.
Again, a nod to the classic Legend of Zelda is the frequent repetition of the famous line “It’s a secret to everybody.” The line was first uttered by a friendly and generous Moblin who just gave away his money to you when you stumbled upon his layer. Along with the iconic “It’s dangerous to go alone take this,” this line has gone down in history as a symbol of the Zelda franchise. Why, it’s even made it’s way outside of the series into completely unrelated games such as Valve’s Team Fortress 2. How strange that something so inconsequential became something so widely recognized. In fact, seven other Zelda games have had some character who has said this line, most recently in A Link Between Worlds. Once again, it’s a basically meaningless line, but the joy and nostalgia of seeing it in text is certainly worthy of mention.
Now I’d like to finish off with a little, unusual bit that came to my mind only when I was just finishing this editorial. Noticing that I had mentioned plenty of references to Majora’s Mask but not any within the game itself, I decided I should think of one that may have existed there. Then it hit me; I distinctly remembered really enjoying one of the Zora’s piano compositions as a kid, my first time playing through the game. Coming back to it recently, having played the classic games in the series, I was elated to realize that the piece was actually the “GAME OVER” theme for The Legend of Zelda. It’s really a great feeling to notice something like that, and the fact that I only really picked up on it during my second play through made it quite a bit more satisfying. It’s an excellent tune too, so go ahead and give it a listen!
Well that’s all for this week! Next week’s article is a Christmas special edition, so please put in your ideas for the specific topic. Don’t forget to check back every Tuesday at 11 AM Central Time for more! As always, remember to comment your ideas on the many throwbacks in Zelda, and of course, thanks for reading!